Saturday, December 09, 2017

'1922' Is Yet Another Solid Stephen King Film Adaptation from Netflix

1922 is the fourth of four Stephen King film adaptations of 2017 (two of which, It and The Dark Tower, were released in theaters), and the second of the two Netflix-produced ones.  And like Gerald’s Game – the other Stephen King Netflix movie – it’s surprisingly great.

It’s about a country farmer named Wilf (Thomas Jane) who locks himself in a hotel room and begins writing a confession to a crime he did in the year 1922 (of course).  In that year, his discontented wife Arlette (Molly Parker) is determined to sell the land they inherited and move to the city – something Wilf is against.  They talk of getting a divorce, but Arlette also wants to bring their son Henry (Dylan Schmid) with her.  Desperate to keep the land and his son, Wilf convinces Henry to help him murder Arlette and make it appear she has run away from home.  They perform the deed, and dump her corpse into a dried up, rat-infested well, which they then fill in.  But afterwards, Wilf’s life begins to fall apart and is haunted by his sin.
I haven’t read the source material (Stephen King is one of my favorite writers, but with all the books he has written through the decades, the amount of books I haven’t read is probably more than double the amount I’ve had).  However, from what I understood from reading a plot summary of the novella, the film is pretty faithful in its take of it.  The only thing that made the source material better is the sense of ambiguity from Wilf as an unreliable narrator – whether the horror he has declared he has gone through really happened or simply a result of his guilt-ridden delusions.  Meanwhile, the film has more of a straightforward supernatural interpretation.

This is Thomas Jane’s second starring role in a Stephen King film adaptation (the first one, The Mist, is one of my all-time favorite movies based on a Stephen King book).  His performance here is as fantastic as Carla Gugino’s in Gerald’s Game.  For stretches, he needed to carry the film – and he did.  The accented narration he provided – which reminded me of Morgan Freeman’s narration style in The Shawshank Redemption (another classic Stephen King film) – is as compelling as his portrayal of Wilf.
As a horror drama, it isn’t particularly scary at all.  But it’s rivetingly disturbing.  It has some creepy, gory visuals and eerie ambiance.  And the gothic, psychological, Edgar Allan Poe-y execution of its narrative is almost flawless.

After Gerald’s Game and 1922, I’m now looking forward to Netflix making more solid Stephen King film adaptations.

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